Memorial stories

We think of Grateful Dogs Rescue as an extended family made up of our dedicated volunteers, our wonderful adopters, and of course our beloved canine companions. We celebrate together, and we mourn together. On this page we honor the lives of the dogs we have loved and lost.

Bernard

Bernard was adopted in 2010, and sadly passed away in 2022. He had hermangiosarcoma, a type of cancer of the blood vessels. The vet called it a “silent killer” because it is most often undetected, as was the case here. A few words from Bernard’s forever mom:

I’m heartbroken—Bernard was my little love for almost 12 years. Plane rides, road trips, walks, ups and downs, he was there. I will always love my little Bernie. I’m so thankful that GDR rescued him.

Paco

“After a difficult couple of weeks, this weekend we said goodbye to my beautiful boy Paco.

To those blessed to have known him, I don’t need to say much. He was kind, gentle, playful, curious, always doing his best to be a good boy, and always excelling at it. The joy he brought to our lives is immeasurable in words or in images. The vacant space he leaves in our home with his departure will be felt profoundly with each passing day.

A pit bull terrier mutt, he was found wandering alone in the Mission District of San Francisco in 2011 by volunteers for Grateful Dogs Rescue. They took him in, cleaned him up, and named him Paco, a Spanish term of endearment for Francisco. When I decided to bring a canine companion into my life, he was the first and last dog I met before deciding he was the one. Along with toys, a jacket, and his blanket which we still have, he came with mange and an ear infection. Within weeks, we cleared this up together and forged an irreplaceable friendship.

He was my untrained caddy and spiritual advisor for many a game of disc golf in Golden Gate Park. And of course, plenty of time was allotted between adventures to lounge in or out of the sun, on the grass or on the couch, and to try on all kinds of ridiculous outfits Cassie would pick out and/or tailor for him. He even picked up a second obligatory sister along the way in the form of a calico cat named Scrabbles, with whom he gradually developed a close bond, despite constantly besting her at hunting laser pointers”

“He made easy friends and lifted spirits everywhere he went. In the practice of life, he was indomitable.

He was known by many names:
Paco Monster
Pooper Dog
Poopder Doopder Doo
Buddy Boy / Baby Boy / Beautiful Boy / Da Boy
Handsome (yes, just Handsome)
Mi Perrito Bonito
Momo Pie
Pacokomo
…and too many more to list.

The symptoms of his illness appeared very suddenly and progressed very quickly. It is hard to believe that just two weeks ago he was his usual self around the house, alternating between naps, extended snuggle sessions, and, with dutiful swiftness and gusto, warding off the racoons and possums who traverse the back fence of our yard. But when the time came, he passed peacefully with his paw in our hands at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine. His final memories are of Cassie and I hugging and kissing him and telling him how much we love him and will miss him.

I am an emotional wreck so I will just part with this for our friends with animal friends: it is never too soon for another trip to the park, another car ride, or another treat. Their time with us is a gift to us, and it is limited. Be grateful. Cherish them.”

Ruby

From Ruby’s dad:

“Ruby’s head peeked over the fence, then she ran a little further up the hill and stood on her back legs for a final glance, remaining there until our car disappeared out of sight. 

Ruby was staying with her foster mom in a cozy Mill Valley home nestled on an east facing hillside with a wrap-around fenced in yard. She had agreed to meet us and introduce us to her “busy” little redhead.

It was love at first sight for the three of us. My wife, June, and I fell for the nippy, energetic and ball chasing shelter-doodle. Ruby’s story was typical of many shelter dogs; abused, scared and a repeat offender, she had been returned once to the SPCA and another time to Grateful Dogs Rescue.

Potential owners would be put off by Ruby’s fearful retreat to the back of her cage and her bared teeth. Obviously her sweet side wasn’t on display and un-adoptable as such, Grateful Dogs asked Martha to give Ruby a roof over her head and a loving environment to set her at ease.

And that was the atmosphere where we first met our girl. We spent a couple of hours with her and we loved every minute. Martha was thrilled with Ruby’s obvious fondness for us and Martha told us after, that Ruby had never acted so engaged with people, ever.

And so Ruby joined our family. The four cats welcomed our newest girl and Ruby quickly bonded with her new family. Fear of rejection and abandonment must have been deeply imprinted in her development as she became a welcome shadow. So much so that within a week or so as I drove down the street headed to work, Ruby escaped her new home and chased my vehicle onto a four lane road. Luckily I checked my mirror and saw a commotion as Ruby had stopped traffic in her quest to stay with her daddy.

And so life went on with Ruby. Hikes, walks, dog parks, picnics, family get togethers and travel. Ruby was at our side and up for any adventure. She joined us paddle boarding, boating, jet skiing, snow shoeing, visiting farms and warming people’s hearts.

A dog’s life is long in ways that they grow, mature and give us pause and purpose, but short in that they live their full lifespan before our eyes. In the summer of 2020 Ruby started having coughing issues and after a few visits to Doctor Emily, Ruby was diagnosed with a lung tumor. 

At twelve Ruby had lived a full life and we made the best of Ruby’s last months as best we could. Her mom and I have holes in our hearts that will never heal but inspiration in our souls that will live forever.

Rest In Peace Ruby Joy, we’ll see you again.”

Piper

From Piper’s mom:

“My Pippy.
My life, as it is today, began on February 22, 2008. Everything I have today is because of my Pip. Everything I have done and become is because of Piper. 

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure she was the dog for me. She wasn’t my first choice of adoptable dogs but Jean Kind told me she was sweet and had a pretty face and would be a good dog for a first time owner. Back then, I didn’t realize all she had gone through to get me. Back then, I didn’t realize the universe gives us what we need and not what we want, dogs choose us, not the other way around. 

We muddled through the first few weeks together, learning each other’s ways, building trust. Just when I thought I’d send her back because we weren’t bonding, she hopped up on the sofa, asked for belly rubs and we never looked back. She blossomed! She was fun, funny, athletic, loved to hike and LOVED play fetch. She was smart, learned tricks, loved to eat and peed everywhere(and never stopped). 

We lived in a sweet little apartment in Burlingame with daily visits to parks and walks in the neighborhood. One sunny day, I looked at her and knew I had to give her more. I promised she would have her very own yard.”

“So my mission began. Over the years we moved back and forth from the east coast to west and in between. In every city we volunteered with shelters and rescues. We fostered dogs and cats and adopted some along the way. We met a man with his own special pup and became a family. 

Nearly six years ago we moved to Northern Michigan and bought a beautiful piece of property. Piper finally had her own yard. Together we did it.

Cancer took her seemingly swiftly over the holidays. We said goodbye on January 4th. We had nearly 14 years together and it was not enough time. I loved her deeply. She opened my eyes and expanded my idea of love. I miss her terribly but am so incredibly grateful I got to be her person. Her legacy lives on in our household. The dogs at my feet and the cats by my side are a reminder that her love continues. 

Thank you, everyone at GDR. Thank you for giving her a chance. Thank you for taking a chance on me. I hope everyone finds their own Pip in this life. “

Wilbur

“I adopted Wilbur on New Year’s Day 2021. I was a few months into the search for my first dog as an adult, and I wondered how I would ever know when I found the one. When Wilbur trotted out of his foster home, I had a good feeling that it might be him. Wilbur was calm, playful, and had that quirky chihuahua personality. He was mellow with big, boisterous dogs that came running up to him and unfazed with my friends’ toddlers that tugged on his ears. He won over the hearts of self-proclaimed cat people and others who thought they “just didn’t like chihuahuas.” He even won over my family cat who began to seek out Wilbur’s company on the couch. 

Wilbur was my hiking buddy, my cuddle buddy, and my loyal sidekick. A few months after adopting Wilbur, I found myself facing an unexpected major surgery. 

My daily walks with Wilbur got me through the fear and uncertainty of the month leading up to my procedure. I’ll never forget my first walk with Wilbur during my recovery. It was such a milestone to be out walking him again. 

Although Wilbur passed too soon, he enjoyed his life up until the end. While I wish he was sitting on my lap as I write this, I am grateful for the time that we had together. He helped me get through a difficult chapter and I like to think I helped make his last year a joyful one. For Wilbur, it was a year of treats, walks, comfy time on the couch, and sunbathing anywhere and everywhere possible.  

Thank you, Grateful Dog!  I don’t know what I would have done without Wilbur and I know he came into my life at the right time. “

Tino

Tino was adopted as a senior by Matt and his dog Greta. Matt writes:

“Valentino (Tino) came into our lives with an energy and love of life that was infectious. He was adorable, intrepid, playful, comforting, brave, and such a charmer. All of the kids in my life were obsessed with him, and Greta, well, she welcomed him as a best friend and warm blanket.

We only had two short years together, but he traveled all over California, from the mountains of Tahoe to the beaches of Venice. He got to fly across the country and explore upstate New York and summer in the Hamptons.”

 

” He was a steadfast copilot on a drive from San Francisco to New York, stopping at dog parks in Utah, Wyoming, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and countless truck stops and highway motels in between.

Tino sat with me throughout Covid, keeping me company while I worked, becoming a favorite of clients and colleagues. It’s impossible to overstate how much he meant to me and Greta, and how deeply we love him and miss him. 

Thank you for bringing him into our lives. And for all the work you do changing dogs’ and people’s lives. ” 

Manny

From Manny’s forever family: 

We are beyond devastated as Manny was the bright light of our little family unit. When we first got Manny he was a bit reserved, but after some training he warmed up to us, and he soon became a joyful dog. He would spend many mornings sunbathing in the tanbark in the backyard, hunting for lizards (he never caught any), and evenings chasing Sunshine (our other dog) while barking his head off. He loved it!

Together we went on an epic road trip all over the US and Canada. Manny was a hit with everyone no matter where we stopped. People would take pictures of him, ask to pet him, ask to hold him (one lady spent an hour with him), and marvel at his strange body. He had the legs of a supermodel and he was often referred to as the Salvador Dali of dogs. He definitely enjoyed all the attention but he always acted cool and ready to strike pose. ” 

During the pandemic, we were lucky enough to be home with Manny when he became sick. We fought hard for him but in the end he had a tumor on his lower esophageal sphincter and developed a fast cancer in his small intestine and stomach. It was heartbreaking and a few weeks ago we knew it was time to say goodbye. 

We want to thank you for getting him out of the shelter and taking him back when other adoptions failed. Also, thank you for giving us a chance. Back then we were so worried that we wouldn’t be able to adopt another dog because Sunshine was very reactive. Manny ended up being the perfect fit for her and he really helped her to relax. (She misses him a lot and we now see just how much he kept her anxiety down.)

Manny was a gift. Pure joy. Beautiful. Loving. He is missed every day by all of us.”

Penny

We first met Penny in early 2010 (she was Tinkerbelle then). She was such a happy, friendly puppy. There was something wrong with her nose, but she didn’t care. After she was in foster, we had it checked out, and the consensus was that her nose worked the way it was and doing anything to it could create a problem. Penny was adopted by her foster family.

A couple of years ago Penny became a big foster sister to an injured chihuahua that was missing a foot. Penny was a natural nurse and helped little Zoe through her leg amputation, and showed her how fun it was to be a well-cared-for, much-loved dog.

Zoe was also adopted by her foster family. Zoe tried to teach Penny that it was fun to let their mom dress them up in outfits, but Penny never believed that. Penny and Zoe had become best friends and were always together.

We are so sorry to say goodbye to Penny, but so happy that she had a wonderful life

Stripe

From Stripe’s Forever Family:

“Just a note of gratitude. We adopted “Stripe” a male border collie mix from you on September 13 2009. He had a beautiful life with us and watched our grandkids all grow up. He left us on January 2, 2021, due to an untreatable heart tumor. We are devastated but grateful for all the love he gave us. We will never forget him. Thank you so much.”

Top: Harvey. Bottom: Harvey together with Otto. 

Harvey

From Harvey’s Dad:

“I wanted to let you know that our rescue Harvey recently passed, at what we think was around 15. You may recall that he was originally fostered at Citidogs, where he became attached to one of our other dogs, Otto, who went to daycare there every day. Once we began fostering Harvey at home it was obvious they were inseparable soulmates, at which time he became a permanent member of our family. 

Otto passed about a year prior. During his final 6 months his back legs were inoperable, and Harvey rarely left his side. We would find them together with Harvey licking Otto’s head or his back, or nuzzling his snout alongside Otto’s. 

Over quite literally decades of fostering and rescuing dogs, I have never seen the kind of deep love and intimate affection that the two of them shared for one another. 

Thank you for initially looking out for Harvey. Despite having a mangled face, broken bones that had healed poorly, and terrible arthritis, he was so sweet, and he clearly added much to Otto’s life in addition to ours. 

Keep up the great work!”

Pip

From Pip’s Mom:

This is in memory of Pip, our Grateful Dogs rescue for over 15 years. He met all of our Great Expectations, and was the Energizer Bunny of Dogs, but even the strongest batteries wear out. We loved every minute we had with him, and will miss him forever. Thank you for all you do.

Top photo is of Pip in his prime, below is as he was these past two years: one-eyed, three-legged, and as wonderful as ever. “

 

Bruno

From his Forever family: 

“Our lab Bruno, whom we adopted in 2009 through GDR, passed away this week. He had a great life and enriched ours immeasurably.”

Summer

Sweet Summer came to GDR as an energetic and intelligent little pup. She gave her forever family almost 12 years of her enthusiasm and love. From her Dad: 

“We miss her, and will miss her. She was a marvellously sweet girl. What will we do without her?”

 

From Katie: “Fred officiating (or so he thought) our wedding in 2011.”

Fred

It’s been over a decade since Fred won the hearts of Katie and David and found his forever home. Fred lived a happy life, experiencing both the cold winters of Pittsburgh, PA, and the hot summers of Tucson, AZ.

From his mom Katie:
Fred has gone on to his next adventure. He will be missed so very, very much, but these last two months of working from home and not going anywhere at all gave me 24 hours a day to love him and he definitely knew it.

Thanks again for bringing the little guy into our lives. We had an amazing 10+ years together.

Vinnie's legacy

From Maria, Vinnie’s Mum, August 2019:

You have probably heard the quote “Rescuing one dog won’t change the world, but the world will change for one dog!”. But is this really true? Let me tell you the story of Vinnie and then you can decide.

 

Let’s start at the end to get the sad part over. Vinnie died this summer just short of his 16th birthday. He was in my life for over 14 years. At the time I met him, my little Chihuahua mix had just died of cancer and my border collie, Decca, needed a new companion, so I could not take as long to mourn as I might have liked. Someone in my vet’s office mentioned a poodle mix that Grateful Dogs Rescue was having trouble placing but thought he might be a good fit for me.


Vinnie had attracted the most applications GDR had ever received at the time for a dog. He was that cute! But had been adopted and returned 3 times (food protective, not hypo-allergenic, bonded to one person more than the other), but none of those issues were a problem for Decca and me. So, I took him home and changed his name to Vinnie. His original name was too cute for such a little tough guy. I decided he was the Joe Pesci of cockapoos and chose the name Vinnie. He was about a year and a half old at that time and he and Decca became best friends.

Almost 2 years after adopting Vinnie, I helped trap an abandoned dog in McLaren Park. I asked Grateful Dogs if they would take this dog if I fostered, and he became my first foster dog. I thought this was going to be a one-off thing and didn’t plan to continue to foster. But, 4 months later I was asked if I would consider fostering another dog, and then one thing lead to another and I have now fostered over 50 dogs. Vinnie, being who he was, gave most of these foster dogs a hard time while Decca, and then Shayna, gave them a nurturing environment to get ready for their forever homes.

In the 12 years since my second foster dog, I have case managed dogs, screened dogs at the shelter, screened foster applications, done website updates, answered the emails, and so many other tasks, and despite at first refusing offers to join the board, I now find myself as board president.

So, let’s circle back to the beginning of the story. Is it true by rescuing Vinnie, the world was changed for only one dog? Well, it was definitely changed for me. The world was also changed for all of the other foster dogs and the people who adopted them. And so on and so on, one step at a time, the world will continue to change and Vinnie’s legacy and memory will live on.

Barry

Barry was 12 when he came into rescue, and was fostered by Michelle. She loved Barry so much, her husband arranged for Barry to become Michelle’s as a Christmas present in 2016. In Michelle’s own words:

We were so lucky to get to love this toothless spunky old man for the last few years of his life. Just wish we had met sooner. Rest easy sweet boy , mommy loves you.

Raven

We received these lovely words and photos from Mike and Maya, who adopted Raven from GDR almost 12 years ago:

Thank you for saving Raven in the summer of 2006. We adopted him that fall. It is impossible to describe how much he meant to our family, and how much he enriched our lives. Raven was pure love and joy, and sometimes magic. He was a living angel who kept us safe and ever-present.

Raven passed away last fall. He lived well into his twelfth year. We will miss his strength and light. We gave him a wonderful life, and he made our lives wonderful.

This sweet boy was so fearful when you rescued him, downright aggressive, no one could take him, SPCA had deemed him unadoptable. Were it not for your patience and kindness as he sat in San Francisco Animal Control he would have been euthanized. 

Animal control was also truly instrumental in saving him, they called you because they recognized his potential. You put the time into him because you are amazing! I still have the records from Animal Control that documented your visits and your patience with him until he would come to you and you found him a foster – Kathleen Bolton. She loved him so much. Kathleen’s big heart brought him to us and I will not forget her for that! Thank you all!! We had a beautiful, joyous life together. He loved the mountains, the beach, the desert, creeks, lakes- really an amazing life was had thanks to your work! 

We are eternally grateful.

Pi

Pi was rescued by Grateful Dogs Rescue about a year ago. He was very old…our guess 15 years or more. He had lived with his owner all his life, but when his owner had to move into a hospice, Pi couldn’t follow. GDR took him in.

 

Pi had two amazing foster homes in the year he was with us. When he came to GDR, he had very bad teeth and terrible skin issues. We made sure to address his medical issues, and he was showered with lots of love, treats and adventures.  

 

On October 16th 2018, Pi crossed the rainbow bridge. We loved him VERY much, and are so proud of everyone that made Pi’s last year on earth, a great year!

Riley

From Riley’s forever family:
Dear Grateful Dogs Rescue,
We are forever grateful for the good fortune and incredible blessing to have become dog parents to Riley. When we first met him in Belmont, then San Bruno to decide if we could adopt him, who knew how our lives would change and the incredible adventures we would have together as a family. 

Thank you. He was the best. 

With gratitude and sorrow, the Machacz Family

Bix

From Bix’s forever family: 
In memory of our “little man” Bix who we adopted from Grateful Dogs Rescue in 2011. He passed on Sept. 13, 2018.
He gave us such joy and provided companionship to our other dog, Wes.
We appreciate all the hard work you do to provide the opportunity to dogs who may not have another chance at a forever home.
Sincerely,
Rita and Sam

Maggie

Maggie was rescued from SFACC.  Below are some lovely photos and a note from her forever family who gave her a wonderful life:

 

 On March 31, 2006, my husband and I adopted our beautiful dog from you. Her name was Lady and she was about 12 months old. We changed her name to Maggie. She was an amazing and elegant creature and often stopped people in their tracks. Everywhere Maggie went people wanted to know what kind of dog she was and to pet her. She had the sweetest smile and grandest spirit. However, it took Maggie many years and love to help her to feel safe and to enjoy all the love that people wanted to give her.

 

Maggie came when called and could be walked off leash. She never ate off our coffee table nor did her business in the house.  Anyone who knew her knows that what I am relaying to you here in these words cannot possibly express who Maggie was or who she was to us and to all that knew her.

 

 

Maggie came when called and could be walked off leash. She never ate off our coffee table nor did her business in the house.  Anyone who knew her knows that what I am relaying to you here in these words cannot possibly express who Maggie was or who she was to us and to all that knew her.

 

Maggie left us on September 20, 2018. She had a stroke and after she stopped eating, we had her put to sleep. For the two days before we brought our vet to our house to do this, many friends and neighbors came to visit with her and with us. We miss her so terribly much and I cry for her all the time. It was such an honor to share her life with her. She gave us so much love and laughter. I always felt proud walking down the street or on a trail with her.

I want to thank you for saving her.  – Maura

Angel

Most of us met Angel for the first time at this adoption event in 2009 when she was our official greeter! Not surprisingly, Angel, as beautiful inside as out, was adopted almost immediately. Sadly we learned that Angel passed earlier this month after living a wonderful, active, loved life with her adopter Anne:

 

 

She was an amazing, loving dog. She had a heart of gold and an uncanny sense if someone was upset or just having a bad day. She would pull me across the street to greet passersby or people getting out of their cars and wanted them to pet her so she could take it all away. Thank you so much for rescuing her Grateful Dogs Rescue!!!

Franny

Franny was rescued with her sister from ACC in July 2003 and finally found her forever home at Thanksgiving 2004. The following was written by her mom last year on the anniversary of Franny’s adoption.

 

When I think about the past nine years of my life with Franny, I am so glad that Grateful Dogs rescued her.

“Rescue” is not an exaggeration in Franny’s case: she was slated to be euthanized at San Francisco Animal Care and Control, for “behavior” issues. Her crime: she was very shy and scared, and not even remotely outgoing. The opposite of what people look for in a dog, I suppose.

But when I saw Franny’s picture on the Grateful Dogs site in 2004, I felt an immediate connection — it felt like fate. 

Not so much on Franny’s end, however. The first time I met her, she hid behind a fallen tree and watched me warily, emerging only when I brought out some sliced (extremely fancy and expensive) chicken apple sausage. But a few days later, when she came home with me, she hopped into my bed and lay her head on my leg.

 

Nine years later, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without her. Watching her blossom from a dog who was so frightened that people thought it would be a kindness to end her life to a rambunctious, silly, sassy girl who just wants to play and cuddle as been one of the greatest joys I’ve ever experienced. If Grateful Dogs hadn’t believed in her, Franny and I never would have found each other! I will always be thankful to them for taking a chance on this scared little dog and saving the life of my best friend.

Tara

Tara was one of almost 150 dogs rescued from the Nevada desert in the middle of winter after their caretaker died. We took Tara and her friend Arnie into GDR knowing that these dogs were painfully unsocialized, as most had never lived inside or with people, and would require a lot of work and patience. We received the following note from Donna, who fostered and then adopted Tara.

I don’t know if you remember me, but you graciously agreed to sponsor my fostering and adoption of Tara in 2008 — one of the 144 dogs from Gabbs, Nevada. Well, very sadly, Tara was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy in July 2013 … and after a year of steady deterioration, she reached her limit on Tuesday 11/11/14. When I saw her Tuesday morning, I knew it was her time. 

We had almost 7 beautiful years together, thanks to you!! She was the greatest gift I could have ever had. I miss her every day but I know for sure that it was the right decision for Tara.

 

Just wanted to thank you, again, for all your help and for taking such a chance on us. It was a beautiful match  :-). I’ve attached a fairly recent picture of my girl — as you can see, she is still fearful and never likes the camera!